[Welcome back to Nora, a new contributor to The Kitchen, who will be trying out on Cheesemonger and Farmers' Market posts.]
The challenge at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market in San Francisco last Saturday was to summer-fy Michael Chiarello's Forever Roasted Pork Shoulder (see recipe after the jump), which guarantees falling-off-the-bone pork most appropriate for east coast winters or San Francisco summers. Some of the more interesting highlights entirely new to us New Yorkers: Zapallitos, a sweet and tender summer squash originally from Argentina; Miyoza, fragrant Japanese ginger flowerbuds; and Bittermelon (see above photo), a little-known member of the gourd family considered the most bitter among all edible vegetables, used to enhance stir fries and soups. Summertastic sides for an 8-hour roasted pork shoulder infused with sage and cream? Go for some of the best nectarines around, a white variety from Kashiwase Farms called Arctic Rose. Try marking them with a deep char on the grill to candy their natural sugars and top them with a handful of chopped mint to highlight the contrast between sweetness and smoke.
Eatwell Farm's acclaimed lavender salt is a killer rub for the heftiest of grilled meats, but is an even better, more delicate match for some Balakian Farms' heirloom tomatoes. They're ripe as can be and as sweet as they look, with deep, lingering tomato flavor. The corn was as it is in New York in September—hefty, thick ears that have grown all summer and large, swollen kernels to match. Try cutting the corn off the cob and sautéing with thyme just until they become copper-colored in places and caramelized. An obvious summer choice, perhaps, but how often do you get to add local corn to one of your favorite winter meals? Only in a San Francisco summer. For a full listing of farms at The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, see the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture website. Forever Roasted Pork Shoulder Spice Rub: 1/4 c fennel seeds (one quarter cup) 1 Tbsp coriander seeds 1 Tbsp black pepper corns 1 1/2 tsp red chile flakes (1 and a half tsp) 2 Tbsp kosher salt 2 Tbsp cinnamon 3 large cloves of garlic Toast the dry seeds and spices in a small skillet, taking care not to burn. Put all ingredients into a large mortar and pestle or spice mill and pound or mill away to make a paste. Pork Roast: Pork shoulders are sometimes as large as 7- 8 pounds and will feed at least 15 - 20 people. The shoulder should be boned and not tied 1 whole Pork Shoulder boned - room temperature 1/4 c. Spice Rub (one quarter cup) 1/2 pint heavy cream (one half pint) Olive oil for sautéing 4 onions not too thinly sliced in half rounds salt and pepper 10 coarsely chopped sage leaves a little water to help get the onions going Sauté the onions for a few minutes @ med heat. When they start to become tender and a little browned, add the sage. Sauté a little more to let the aroma of the sage come out. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 275 F. Chose a heavy roasting pan, not to tall or to much bigger that the roast. Rub the roast inside and all over with the rub. Lift the flap where the bone was and push in as many onions as possible, letting the rest fall all around. I tie 2 times loosely around the roast, sometimes I don't. It doesn't really matter. The onions that are in the flap stay there either way. Place in the roaster with 1 cup of water and roast 7 - 8 hours, basting every couple of hours (don't get any onions on top of the roast, only the juices, the onions will burn on top of the roast) making sure it doesn't get dry. If it gets dry (probably won't) add a little water. Around 6 1/2 hours (SIX AND A HALF) into the cooking time add the cream to the roasting pan. Be careful the cream doesn't burn) Depending on the size of the roast, it's usually done @ 7 hours. Sage Sauce: 1/2 pint of heavy cream (one half pint) 8 - 10 sage leaves coarsely chopped collected juices from the roaster While the roast is continuing cook, reduce the other 1/2 (ONE HALF)pint of heavy cream over med. heat in a sauce pan, being careful not to boil over (adjust heat), adding the sage after about 6 -8 minutes. Set aside. Remove roast from pan and keep on a warm platter, tented with foil, to rest while you finish the sauce. Tilt the roasting pan and skim off the fat. Pour the contents of the roasting pan into the sauce pan which is holding your reduced sage cream, stir and adjust seasoning. Keep warm. The Pork Roast should rest at least 15 - 20 minutes before you attempt to cut it. It really falls apart but I usually slice it into thick slices. Pile it on the warm platter and drizzle some of the sauce, being careful not to cover the beautifully browned roast. Pass the sauce and DEVOUR!!!